DR. GUTHRIE’S GOSPEL BELLS

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“And the master said to the slave,
‘Go out into the highways
and along the hedges,
and compel them to come in,
so that my house may be filled.”

–Luke 14:23

[My dear fellow Christians, as we see in this text, Christ gave a very clear command for us to invite all those who have not had the invitation to come to him. Are you talking to your neighbors? Is Christ the foremost topic with your friends? Can the people you meet on the street readily tell that you are a Christian? Is Christ your constant meditation?

Ministers, as Guthrie did in this story below, are your sermons so pointed that your listeners believe you are talking directly to them? Do they leave with their hearts burning within them with love and the desire to know more of the Savior? Are they compelled to come back because they know that they will meet Jesus and find healing when they hear your words? Do they know from each of your sermons that Christ is their only hope? My prayer is that your answer is yes to each and every question. –MWP]


A Scotch lady,when in Edinburgh, noticed a very lofty attic in the High Street…

…in the neighborhood of Dr. Guthrie’s Church. The thought struck her that there might be some poor lonely creature living in one of those upper stories, whom no one visited or cared for; so, lifting up her heart to God for guidance and blessing, she began her investigation.

After ascending the almost innumerable stairs, she reached the top story, where the poorest people lived. Knocking at one of the doors, she was answered by an old woman, who opening it cautiously, and asked the stranger what she wanted. “I want to see you?” replied the lady.

“No one ever comes here, or wants to see me,” said the old woman, in not so inviting tones. “Well,” rejoined the kind visitor, “that is just the reason why I wish to see you.” Then the cautious old woman opened the door, and let the lady into her little room, which only contained enough furniture for the bare necessities of its aged inmate. The only seats were a rocking-chair and a stool, and the visitor, taking the stool, made the old woman seat herself near the fire in her rocking-chair.

After a few kind words, which opened the poor woman’s heart, the lady visitor said, “I am not going to ask you, my friend, if you know the Lord; but I should like to hear if you can tell me anything to show me that the Lord knows you, and has found you out in your little lonely room?”

The old woman’s face brightened up at once. “Yes, I can,” she answered; “and I will tell you all about it, though I have never told anyone before. If He had not known me and sought me, I should never have known Him; for I lived like a heathen in this room. I have had many troubles, and lost my all; and not having a friend, or anyone to love, I shut myself up in my own misery, and did not want to know my neighbors. Weekdays and Sundays were all alike and dark to me. I never went anywhere. I lived just as if I had no soul; and thus I should have lived and died had not the Lord had mercy upon me.”

“And how did He awaken you from your state of spiritual death?”

“By Dr. Guthrie’s bells, “replied the old woman; “when they rang on Sundays, I use to wish they would leave off. They troubled me; they seemed calling to me “till at last I could bear it no longer; so one day I put on my shawl, and went to church just to get peace, as it were, from the bells.”

“Well, and how did you like what you heard?”

“Not at all. I came home very angry with Dr. Guthrie; for as I stood in the crowded aisle, he preached all his sermon about me, and I determined never to go and hear him again. But when the next Sunday came, the bells tormented me more than ever. I was forced to go; and again I came home feeling what a sinner I was.

Thus I continued from week to week; and then I had a dream which cut down all my hopes. I seemed to be in a square place, where a number of flowers in pots were standing, and in the middle of them I saw Dr. Guthrie with a watering pot. He went round and watered every pot and plant until he came to one which I thought meant me; and then he stood still and said, in a solemn voice, ‘It is no good watering this, for it has no roots,’ and he passed me by. And when I awoke, I felt what a dreadful state I was in.”

And thus the arrow of conviction entered this poor sinner’s heart, till the Lord who had wounded her in love was pleased to heal her wounds with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

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Meet the pastor and part of your Christian heritage:  Thomas Guthrie D.D(12 July 1803– 24 February 1873) was a Scottish divine and philanthropist, born at Brechin in Angus (at that time also called Forfarshire). He was one of the most popular preachers of his day in Scotland, and was associated with many forms of philanthropy—especially temperance and Ragged Schools, of which he was a founder.  Thomas Guthrie, who was the son of a successful merchant, was born in Brechin in 1780. Educated at his local school, Guthrie was such a brilliant scholar that he was only twelve years old when he entered the University of Edinburgh in 1792.

After a period travelling abroad he worked in a bank until he secured from William Maule, the Whig MP for Forfarshire and a local landowner, the living of Arbirlot. A popular preacher, Guthrie helped his parishioners by establishing a savings bank and using his medical knowledge to help them in times of sickness.

In 1837 Guthrie moved to Old Greyfriar’s in Edinburgh. Shocked by the poverty he witnessed in the city, Guthrie was responsible for the implementation of several social reforms in the parish. This included the establishment of schools and the introduction of a system of district home visitors.

During this period Guthrie developed radical political ideas and worked closely with Joseph Hume, the Whig MP for Montrose. A member of the Temperance Society, Guthrie also campaigned for better working-class housing.

Guthrie believed that improved schools would reduce youth crime and in 1847 published his book Plea for Ragged Schools, or Prevention is Better Than Cure. With the support of the Edinburgh Review, Guthrie was able to raise enough money to form a Ragged School where children were fed, clothed and given training. The success of Guthrie’s ideas encouraged the government to provide funding for what later became known as industrial schools.

After Guthrie retired from the ministry in 1864, he worked for the Sunday Magazine. Thomas Guthrie died in 1873.